This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
***Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
###Tan Books provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
^^^Author provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you. All opinions are my own. :)
Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass, by Katie Warner, illustrated by Meg Whalen ###
This books is the sweetest interactive picture book about the Mass for perschoolers and toddlers. Each page invites the little readers to participate in helping Fr. Ben get ready for Mass- from "dipping" their hands into the Holy Water to make the Sign of the Cross, to "lighting" the candles for the procession. Skills like sequencing and color are taught naturally through the text alongside the structure of the Mass and names of Liturgical vessels. Creative illustrations show a great variety of perspectives that will keep both kids and the adults reading to them engaged. After receiving my review copy, I loved it so much I promptly ordered another copy for my nephew, and I know this will be a great book to use for Baptism gifts in the future!
The Fruit Tree, by Mark Restaino, illustrated by JP Alcomendas ^^^
Growth, fruit, seeds, vines, farmers, and trees are frequent subject matter for parables and poems in the Bible. This original story draws from John 15:5 and uses rich allegory in its words and layered symbolism in its illustrations to help the reader draw closer to the plan the God the Creator has for each of us. Through the guidance of the gardener and the sacrifice of a generous fruit tree, the other trees grow from being competitive and cruel into a virtuous and beautiful orchard. The story connects back to so many themes and stories in the Bible, which are conveniently listed in the back of the book for further reading in your home or classroom. The vibrant illustrations also contain a story all their own full of Biblical symbols that help deepen the message. A key of the symbols is also included in the back of the book to help continue that conversation after you read. The Fruit Tree is a well crafted story that can be understood by young readers while also probing and bringing out depth with older kids.
Roses in the Snow; A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, by Dessi Jackson, illustrated by Lydia Grace Kadar-Kallen
This lovely book has been on my to-get list for a while. The fictionalized story of a young girl listening to her grandmother tell the story of her namesake, Elizabeth of Hungary, is a warm and memorable tale of the Saint's life. The beautiful watercolor illustrations pair perfectly with the story. The book is supplemented with a map of Europe around the time of St. Elizabeth and a brief biography fleshing out some details of her life. It would make a perfect cozy bedtime read, especially for a grandmother and granddaughter!
Sitting Like a Saint, by Dr. Gregory & Barbara Bottaro, illustrated by Michael Corsini
I first read this brand new book when my sister ordered it for my nephew, and was super impressed with the content and illustrations. Each two page spread features a Saint (or Biblical figure) and includes a bright and original illustration of their life, feast day, patronage, quote or Bible verse, and brief biography. Then, the author connects a strength or virtue of the Saint with a struggle the reader might be facing- distraction, fear, anger, or sorrow. Using the Saint as a guide, we are led through a brief prayerful meditation, including movements and deep breaths. When reading about Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, the child "climbs" a mountain while they pray about letting go of distractions. The Prophet Elijah helps them practice really listening to sounds, helping them remember to listen for God's still small voice. The child is invited to lay prostrate on the floor, focusing on God's presence, much like St. John Paul II would pray in adoration. We are indeed both body and soul, and these meditations seek to help the littlest of children see the union of the two. I think that this book would be a strong resource in homes and classrooms, both to teach techniques to name and control emotions, as well as to give tools and strategies when those emotions are most difficult to control, all through the guidance of Scripture and Saints. Gregory has a doctorate in clinical psychology and he and Barbara are parents of four young children. In the introduction for parents, they explain the theory of the book, which is desiring to introduce children to the Saints as well as to help them grow in the peace that surpasses all understanding by using their God-given bodies to help name and control their emotions. You can read the whole intro at the Amazon link above.
Anna Goes to a Party...and Learns About the Mass, by Gabriele Kramer Kost, illustrated by Tanja Husmann ***
This cute little chapter book is a perfect gift for a girl getting ready for her First Communion. Character Anna is doing just that, and learns more and more about Jesus in the Eucharist while celebrating her Grandpa's birthday and spending some special time with her Godmother. Those Parallels between Mass and her life as well as stories from the Bible help her understand just how special the gift of her First Communion is. Each chapter contains a few full color illustrations in the same sweet style you see on the cover. The book has seven chapters over about 50 pages and then contains a 25 page guide to the Mass, including responses, motions, and brief explanations. It would make a great family read-a-loud during the time of preparation for a First Communion, and a then good resource for following along and talking about the Mass.
Stories of the Blessed Sacrament, by Francine Bay, illustrated by Hengjing Zang
This beautifully illustrated and published book contains twelve stories of the Eucharist, emphasizing the True Presence and the centrality of this Sacrament to our faith. Each chapter is told in narrative format and reads like an independent picture book of its own, making this a perfect book to use as a read-a-loud many, many times over. I absolutely love the style, color, and expression of the illustrations and think they really add a lot of depth and character to the stories. The first five chapters are Biblical stories of the Eucharist, including one from the Old Testament and four from the New. The other seven stories tell of Eucharistic events that stretch from the early Church until World War II. The are certainly friendly enough to read with second graders preparing for First Communion (this would make a lovely gift book) but also would be inspiring for older kids to read and then maybe do further research into each event. It is an inspirational keepsake that I think has a place on a bookshelf in any Catholic home or classroom.
Heavenly Hosts; Eucharistic Miracles for Kids, by Kathryn Swegart OFS, illustrated by John Folley and Hannah West-Ireland
The True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been documented by the Church in countless Eucharistic Miracles. The author has chosen ten of those events and retold them as stories suitable for elementary students. The miracles range in era from the 200s to 1994 and occurred all throughout the world. Each chapter is only a few pages long and features a black and white illustration. This book would also make a great read-a-loud as all of the chapters are independent from one another, and also would make for the basis of an awesome research project for older students, helping them know, understand, and believe in both the power and gift of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Mass Explained for Kids (Second Edition), commentary by Maria Grace Dateno FSP and Jaymie Stuart Wolfe ***
There are many children's Mass guides out there, but I really like this new one from Pauline Kids. Affordably priced, it is still printed in full color on nice glossy paper and would be a great family resource or could be used in a class set for a school or religious education program. One of the main reasons that I like it is that the commentary and definitions are not interspersed among the text of the Mass or in footnotes of the pages, which can be really hard for young readers to follow. Instead, the left page contains the words and actions of the Order of the Mass, and then color coded notes correspond on the facing right page. The child can follow along with the Mass without interruption, but can trace the dotted line to the info box to read more or have a word defined. The layout is a smart move to make this a very usable Children's Mass guide.
Patron Saint Flash Card Set from Abrosiana
These actually aren't a book, but have been a favorite new resource in my classroom. A set of 100 large Saint cards comes in a sturdy box with a sliding drawer, and have attractive consistent illustrations (meaning the whole set matches- it's not a mishmash of various artwork and artists comprising the images of the Saints). On the back, each card contains three fast facts, feast day, patronage, and a brief biography. These cards have worked well in my classroom for quick games, ten minute filler activities, icebreakers, etc. all while learning about the Saints.
Catholic Funny Fill-Ins, by Karen and Tommy Tighe, illustrated by Jason Bach ***
My generation grew up doing mad-libs all the time- on the bus, while waiting after sports events, at slumber parties... and when we ran out, we made our own. Karen and Tommy Tigue (The Catholic Hipster) have done just that but with fun with Catholic topics. Fill in a list of random adjectives, verbs, and names, and you suddenly have a hilarious story about what to give up for Lent or the struggle to get ready for Mass or how to elect a new Pope. This book would be absolutely perfect for a family road trip, and I've been using it for earlier finishers this spring in my classroom. I'm grateful that Pauline Kids allows in the copyright for pages to be reproduced for educators, because my students are certainly getting some good use out of it!
The Saints Chronicles from Sophia Institute Press (multiple authors and illustrators)
Graphic novels deserve a post of their own here on my blog, as I feel that they are an incredibly relevant way to share the faith, especially with reluctant readers or kids that are predominantly visual learners. Well written and illustrated graphic novels can convey just as much (if not more) information as a chapter book, and often do by developing and challenging reading skills like sequencing, making inferences, and understanding dialogue and perspective. The Saints Chronicles collection has a mature look for middle school or older readers and features five Saints in each book. Well known Saints like Anthony, Patrick and Nicolas are mixed in with lesser known Henry Morse, Charles Lwanga, and Pachomus. Creatively told by many different authors and illustrators, there is something new to learn each time the novels are read and reread. They'd make the perfect gift to inspire virtue in any preteen or teen.
My Dear Young Friends; Pope John Paul II Speaks to Teens on Life, Love, and Courage, editor John Vitek
While this is not a new book, as I was organizing this set of book reviews, I wanted something with a little more substance for a middle or high schooler, but also with summer in mind. This collection of 52 reflections straight from the words of St. John Paul II would make a great companion for any teen. Each page has a Bible verse, a quote from JP2 (as well as the source of document or address if they want to read more), a guided reflection, an action point, and a prayer. Each page also has a little "Did you know?" trivia helping the reader get to know this beloved Saint. I think this little book would make a great graduation gift to promote reflection and growth during such formative years.
Inspiration from the Saints; A Coloring Book for Prayer and Meditation, by Cindi Duft ***
While there are many adult coloring books on the market, and even tons of faith centered ones, I really like this new collection of Saint coloring pages and think older kids would really enjoy the detailed designs and intricate patterns. Each two page spread features a Saint, depicting images of them, symbols, and quotes, often in a stained glass window kind of style. The opposite page contains a biography of the Saint as well as a prayer or quote to supplement and help make the time spent coloring and fruitful opportunity for prayer.
And why not dive into summer with a giveaway! One winner will receive:
-Inspiration from the Saints Coloring Book
-The Fruit Tree
-Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass
-Anna Goes to a Party
-And a set of beautiful vinyl stickers from Catholic Paper Goods
This giveaway will be hosted over on my Instagram Friday 5/31- Sunday 6/2, but I know some of my readers don't have an account there, so to enter here, just leave a comment on this post with one book that you hope to read over your summer (or get your kids to read!). If you are on Instagram, feel free to enter in both places! Happy reading!